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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  September 4, 2013 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with syria and the congress. starting with david sanger of the "new york times" and dexter filkins of the new yorker magazine. >> i think the big question which the administration is grappling with behind the scenes but does not want to discuss out in public is the question of whether or not its own plan is sufficient enough to actually prevent assad from using these weapons again and would set him back enough that it would make a significant difference on the ground. >> over the last eight months, assad's position has really stabilized. and i think that one of the puzzling things about the chemical weapons attack that he undertook, the really big one is why did he do it. you'd think that that would be the act of a desperate man. and he's got a lot of reasons to be desperate. >> rose: we continue this evening with the further consideration of congress and the political implications for
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2014 with maggie haberman, chris cillizza and jonathan martin. >> look, i was struck by the fact that geo politicalship in the house pointedly noted this was going to be a conscious vote. that's a euphemism we're not going to put any skin in the game here and we're not going to actually deliver votes. so yes there's this symbolic power of the two top leaders, boehner in the house supporting the measure. but if they're not going to aggressively try to secure the votes, that doesn't mean that much. especially given, as chris said, the fact that even when they do try to go after votes and deliver votes, they aren't always successful. >> rose: all about syria and politics when we continue.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin this evening with syria. president obama continues to push for congressional authorization for u.s. military
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action. the administration firmly believes the assad regime is responsible for the august 21st chemicals weapons attack that killed 1400 people. speaker john boehner and nancy pelosi has spoken in favor of the plan. here's what president obama said after meeting today with members of congress. >> the key point i want to emphasize to the american people, the military plan that has been developed by its own chiefs and that i believe is appropriate is proportional, it is limited, it does not involve boots on the ground. this is not iraq and this is not afghanistan. this is a limited proportional step that will send a clear message not only to the assad regime but also to other countries that may be interested in testing some of these international norms, that there are consequences. >> rose: the attorneys relation committee heard testimony today from secretary
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of state john kerry, chuck hagel and martin dempsey. >> we now have learned that the hair and blood samples from first responders in east damascus has tested positive for signatures of sarin. so my colleagues, we know what happened. for all the lawyers, for all the former prosecutors, for all those who have sat on a jury, i can tell you that we know these things beyond a reasonable doubt that is the standard by which we send people to jail for the rest of their lives. some have tried to suggest that the debate we're having today is about president obama's red line. i could not more forcefully state that is just plain and simply wrong. this debate is about the world's red line. it's about humanity's red line. and it's a red line that anyone with a conscious ought to draw.
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>> rose: joining me from washington david sanger from the "new york times," dexter filkins of the new yorker magazine, i'm pleased to have both of them here as we take a look at what happened today in washington as the secretary of defense, secretary of state and chairman of the joints chiefs testified before the foreign senate committee. i david begin with you. tell me what came out of that hearing and the q&a that took place after the testimony that you think influences or might influence the debate. >> well charlie, you've heard secretary kerry give a much more forceful reiteration of his reasons for believing that congress had to go give the president the authorization to use force. and his argument came down to this, that if congress didn't do it, that at some point soon everybody would be back in the same room seeking an authorization for force on something much larger. he envoked the spector of the
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iranians looking very closely at whether or not the united states was good to its worth that it would enforce a ban on the use or development of weapons of mass destruction. he made the same argument about the north koreans. he ran into i think considerable skepticism but the skepticism didn't have to do with the morality or legality of the argument that the u.s. should go in although i think we could make some arguments particularly on the legal front. but rather simply on the question of whether or not the united states wanted to go in in the absence of any allies, the arab league the british going along with them. on this issue i think the administration is having a very difficult time, and frankly, if they had more allies going with them, they probably wouldn't have gone back to congress for the political cover here to begin with. >> rose: dexter. >> well, i mean i think, i think the vote will be close but i think he'll get, i personally think he'll get the
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authorization to do it. >> rose: define determining by a little bit how that authorizization is defined. >> well, i think the problem here is if he didn't have it, i mean as david was saying, if you, what if, say, he wants a series of strikes. and then assad decided to use chemical weapons again. what do you do then. so i mean this could go on for a while, presumably. >> rose: that's part of the fear of the american people that it becomes somehow a deepening hole that draws the united states in. >> it's definitely a quagmire and i think -- >> you used that word. >> it's a quagmire with syria but the iranians are going all in to help this regime, had fallen next door, i think there's a legitimate fear that hezbollah could mount, they have people all over the world. that we could get dragged into something much better without a resolution.
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>> rose: how big a risk david if we don't do something they say paper tiger, paper tiger. >> i think that risk is 100% that someone will say that. the question is what, how big is the alliance that's left. one moment you heard secretary kerry say that if there was not an authorizization, then the u.s. would have fewer allies or at least fewer allies that believed in them. and certainly the israelis have been making the argument not so subtly that should the u.s. not go in, the iranians would view it as an opportunity to step up on their nuclear weapons development program. that the north koreans would see it as a sign they could do whatever they wanted to do. and that's always a risk when you draw a line in the sand and you're not willingx2?j to back t up. but ihink that the issue that dexter was getting at was one that came up in some fairly interesting ways and of course with a hearing. because a lot of the members of congress wanted an assurance that there would never be boots
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on the ground. and the legislation that was proposed by the whitehouse does not have a ban on boots on the ground. the president has said he wouldn't do it. secretary kerry opened up an interesting loophole. he said supposing for a moment we saw some weapons transfers that were about to take place to hezbollah for example. you might want to have the flexibility to go in and stop that transfer. that was code word for he wanted the ability to send in special forces if they needed to seize a chemical weapons store at some moment. >> rose: why didn't they just say that? >> you know because they rarely talk about what they would use special forces for. but you know, dexter said, and i think quite accurately, these things can get to be a bigger and bigger problem. and the reason they get to be a bigger problem is there are a lot of chemical weapons in syria. and you could imagine a number of them in motion at any given time. and going in seizing them is not simply a question of landing the
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82nd airborne and picking it up and flying it out. you can do that with nuclear weapons. you might be able to do that with biological weapons. it's very risky at times to move chemical weapons. they leak, you can cause the kind of problem you're seeking to prevent. >> rose: this is the kind of thing they've been thinking about for a while. what to do if the syrians start to move the chemical weapons. at the worst moment they were worried about that, that somehow assad might seek to go somewhere into a kind of enclave and take the chemical weapons with him. and then in a free for all in syria he would have a powerful force to work with. >> he's already moved those weapons. >> rose: from where to where, within his own control. >> yes, to keep them in his control. as the government has lost control of the territory they've had to pull some of these weapons in. but just to get to the transfer again, i think if there was any evidence that assad tried to transfer, was transferring those
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weapons to hezbollah, the israelis would not wait for the united states. they'd go immediately. i think there's one thing worth mentioning here. when i was doing some reporting on this early in the year, the pentagon has done some contingency planning what it would take to secure all the sites and to make them safe. the numbers are staggering. the numbers that i was told is up to 75,000 troops on the ground is what it would take to go in and secure everything. and that's obviously horrifying and nobody -- >> rose: you're talking about a whole cross-section. >> that's how many bodies you need to do. imagine that, trying to go into the middle of a very complicated civil war that has a desperate government on one side. and you know, basically the strongest group among the rebels is al-qaeda on the other. try to parachute in the middle of that and sort out where the chemical weapons are, good luck. >> rose: let me talk about some issues that have to do with
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this that will come up in the questioning. it is this, david. what are the targets? and are they changing? >> first question, charlie, the most important thing they seem to be excluding from the targets are the chemical weapons themselves precisely because we don't want to blow them up and trigger a calamity. that means you have to focus command and control systems, delivery systems. i think the big question which the administration is grappling with behind the scenes but does not want to discuss much out in public, is the question of whether or not its own plan is sufficient enough to actually prevent assad from using these weapons again and would set him back enough that it would make a significant difference on the ground. now remember the president in his conversation with pbs last week said he just wanted to send a shot across the bow on the use of chemical weapons. well a shot across the bow is
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not likely to make a big difference, and so now you're beginning to hear the administration speak in different terms about degrading assad's capability, that's a phrase that secretary kerry used today. and you're also hearing them talk about the possibility that they would engage in some kind of broader destruction that was hinted at by senator mccain when he came out of the whitehouse yesterday. >> rose: but they do not use the word regime change. >> they do not. and i think that's for two reasons. one it has echos of the iraq war and they're trying to distinguish this conflict from that. but secondly, you don't want to set out and say that you're going to bring about regime change and then once you miss assad on the first, second and third strikes, you're into a prolonged war until you go get it. >> rose: are those people, are those people who worry that the strike will be too limited, are they prepared to look at the
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authorizing, the authorization and simply say it's too limited, i can't vote for it so that the whole thing fails in the congress and it's a great embarrassment to the president. >> i'm not certain they are. but since the legislation wording is not yet been altered, at least we haven't seen alternative wording yet, i'm not quite sure we've gotten to that part of the debate. you're going to see one of those odd moments here where the far left of the democratic party may team up with the sort of tea party write of the republican party in seeking to stop an interintention altogether and in the middle they'll be debating this question whether the word gives the president enough the president enough impact. >> this constantly comes up. why on the part of the republicans and the question today for secretary kerry and others, was, why have they not
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been able to get those weapons that have been authorized to the people that they wanted to receive them. what's the problem? and whenever they raise that question, secretary kerry said again today we could discuss that in a private session. what's the problem? >> well i think we know, i mean there's not a lot of evidence yet that the weapons have gotten, that any of the weapons have -- i don't know, i mean i think if you look, everybody else is doing this. saudi's are. >> rose: my question becomes if the saudi's are doing it and the turk's are doing, they all buy weapons on the open market i assume. >> yes. some of the weapons that particularly say the saudi's are pretty sophisticated. >> rose: are they getting in and whose hands are they getting to. >> they're getting, i think all those rebels are getting. >> rose: across the section. those that are --
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>> absolutely. and just to come back to this question of regime change and i mean once the other big reason we don't want to do it, well why don't we do that. if he with a take down assad. general dempsey said the other day, there is no group, a sort of moderate rebel group that's in any position to take over. the one group that is presented to take over is the front which is basically al-qaeda. >> rose: what about the question if they done something earlier which the president denies, would there have been a possibility. david, what do you think of that. the president denies they gone in two years ago it would have been a very different situation. that's the argument mccain makes. >> right. this is the would have, should have, could have argument of the syrian intervention. the president made a statement nearly two years ago now saying assad had ago but he didn't at the time seem to have a plan to enforce that. then last year we know that secretary clinton was then still
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in office and director petraeus, david petraeus who was in his last few weeks as the c.i.a. director before he resigned, made an argument for greater army of the rebel. they didn't want to do it for exactly the reason dexter just brought up which is hard to tell which among the rebels you want to arm and that's harder today than it was a year ago. at the same time, i think you might make an argument that had the president reacted more forcefully to the earlier examples of chemical weapons use, which started in about april, then he might not have been quite in the position that he's in today of having to explain to the american people and to congress why in his view this is a red line you cannot let cross. and he set that red line a year ago, he was very reluctant because the intelligence wasn't 100% to act on it in the spring. >> i mean you know, there's a pattern here.
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president said assad has to go but he's not clear these really prepared to do anything about it. a year ago he said this is the red line. there's been as we can see there's been really no preparation made. >> rose: we're not sure it's crossed the red line. >> yes, that took a long time. and in the meantime, assad, according to the exile groups, i don't think the whitehouse disagrees with this, assad has used chemical weapons as many as 30, 35 times all at very low level. hasn't killed more than 100 to 150 people totals. i think it's probably what brought about what happened in east guta when he killed 1400. >> rose: therefore they decided to up the ante. >> yes, to go big. and when i mean look, assad may have miscalculated and a year from now when somebody's throwing a noose over a street light in downtown damascus he may think this is the moment he
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miscalculated and the west decided to get in and finally drive them out. but i think until that moment, i mean assad has basically had, he add a free rein. >> rose: what's the situation on the ground today. is it a standoff or assad, the regime gained the advantage? >> well, if we back up a second. if you go back to december or january, it looked like assad was teetering. it looked like he was going to go and at that moment, you had basically it was a kind of wake up moment for the iranians and for hezbollah. and for the russians. and they really went in big. and so since then, over the last eight months, assad's position has really stabilized. and i think that one of the puzzling things about the chemical weapons attack that he undertook, the really big one is why did he do it. you would think that would be the act of a desperate man. he's got a lot of reason to be desperate today than he did eight months ago.
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>> rose: suggest a reason he did it. >> i think he thought he could get away witness. to answer your question, i think it's a muddle on the ground right now. it's a stalemate. the really scary thing is the strongest rebel group by far is the craziest. >> rose: some say the better fighters too. >> absolutely. >> rose: attracting more recruits. david, tell me, you know a lot about this. how do you think the iranians see this and how far are they willing to go? either if there's an attack or to do something to increase their support for assad. >> you know the iranian calculation here is a pretty complicated one. on the one hand they've depended heavily on assad and he's the transfer point to hezbollah and vitally important in their influence to lebanon and so forth. but on the other hand, at some point they may come to the conclusion that he is a diminishing asset and they need to think about the post-assad
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period. so it's conceivable that if there is an attack, if assad for some reason is destabilized, doesn't emerge from the attack strong or stronger, that the iranians may recalculate. the second thing that's going on is, the sanctions are hurting them. and clearly there is at least talk in iran of a much more serious negotiation with the united states on the nuclear issue. and so they've got to decide at some point what's more important to them, whether or not coming to some kind of an agreement that could begin to lift the sanctions is more important than their link to assad. and the united states meanwhile has got to calculate whether hitting assad if in fact congress agrees to allow some kind of limited strike, and i agree with dexter i think in the end the president probably will get some kind of authorization. the u.s. has got to decide to what degree do you want to press this before it begins to impinge any effort to get a peaceful
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solution with the iranians. but you know, secretary kerry's underlying argument has been whatever you think about the syria argument here, if the iranians see the u.s. back away from a red line they've drawn, they're going to come to the obvious conclusion that the president is not willing to enforce the red line on nuclear as well. and if the israelis come to that conclusion as well, it will probably change their calculus about conducting an independent strike. >> rose: what's interesting what you just said and what others have said, it seems to me the most compelling argument right now is if you don't do this, it will send a terrible signal that might have far reaching consequences otherwise. first the argument that this thing could be a quagmire. the other is that if you don't do something, the iranians will take that as a statement they can go full speed ahead on nuclear. >> i think that's right and that's one of the reasons that
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when the president came to the conclusion that he did, that he had to draw the red line a year ago, you'd like to know how many steps down the line the whitehouse has sort of thought about this. i'm sure they thought about it some but obviously you've gotten a lot more complicated in the years since he made that statement. >> i think there's one other thing we haven't mentioned here which is just if the iranians lost syria, that would be catastrophic for them. i think they would lose hezbollah and lose this whole kind of shiite imperialí./j they have. >> rose: having the iranians lose syria without having a whole group of radical islamists take power. >> i think that's the $64,000 question. i think it explains the reluctance of kind of everybody here, including the president.
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which is how do you move this thing without creating a gigantic power vacuum in the middle of the middle east. we've seen that before. >> rose: what do you think on that point, david? >> i think this is the problem for the president. i mean, the oddity here is that the president and the iranians have a common interest in making sure there's not a sunni jihadist leadership in syria. at the same time the iranians may well feel that what they've seen come out of this entire debate and what's going to play out in the next few weeks in congress, is that deep reluctance within the united states and understandable reluctance get involved in another middle east conflict. especially at a time when the u.s. feels as if it's probably rest reliant on middle east oil than at any moment or at least has the prospect of becoming less reliant. and as a result, i think the iranians may see this as a moment in which they could
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determine that the united states really won't stop them from taking those last steps toward a weapon. and as we've discussed, they may not need to actually take the final step of obtaining a nuclear weapon. they may just want the region to know that they could build one in a matter of weeks. >> rose: where are the iraqis on this, this syria? >> this is fascinating. i mean, i don't, i don't think it would be possible for the iranians to sustain the syrian regime without the cooperation of the maliki government in baghdad which is ostensibly an american ally. >> rose: ostensibly. >> ostensibly. we pulled out of iraq and one of the consequences of that was the iranians moved in in a bigger way than they've ever been before. they're standing over maliki to make sure that he does what they want him to do. and what that means in this case
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is ceaseless stream of cargo weapons carrying men, material, am mission and everything. >> rose: baghdad to damascus. >> no, from tehran. that's what's keeping assad standing. so without iraq none of this would be possible. >> rose: what are the russians giving assad. >> i think at this point, charlie, what the russians are giving assad right now is the only super power cover that he's got. obviously they have a major base that's there, but the russians have two agendas here. one is keeping assad a long time ally and big customer alive, but there are other big agenda item here is keeping a thorn in barack obama's side. clearly that's where they are. look the russians are the only ones who are making the argument so far without any particular evidence that it's the rebels and not the government that made use of these chemical weapons.
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>> there's no evidence of that. >> rose: there's no evidence that the rebels used chemical weapons. >> no evidence that rebels have capability to use chemical weapons. >> charley, the thing about sarin is, it's not easy to use, as the japanese discovered as they intestigated the attack in their own subway system. and to use it as a weapon, you need to be fairly technologically sophisticated, be able to keep the savstable ld use it as a weapon. and that's something that the u.s. intelligence community's looked at a lot. i can't rule out the thought that some sophisticated rebels would be able to go do it. but it seems like the kind of thing that really requires state-sponsored laboratories. >> rose: is there anybody that seriously makes the arguments, do the russians seriously make the argument that the rebels might have done it or is that simply part of their own
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ploy their own strategy to maintain their own role and try to make the argument to protect assad. >> well secretary kerry during the course of the hearing today said that every time the russians are presented with evidence they simply turn around and say we believe that the rebels do it. now the french, the british and the americans have all turned out reports of varying degrees of specificity laying out their case, either you might find it convincing or not. i haven't seen a case yet laid out by the russians for their position. >> rose: and the united nations is simply going to make a determination that chemical weapons were used and not where they came from. >> that's our understanding. >> rose: what does it mean in terms of where the world is and where the un and all of those kinds of arguments. in the end the president has pretty much laid out i'm going and i want congressional support. but what if he doesn't get congressional support? does that mean that the president looks at this and says okay, if the congress is not
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with me, if the people are not with me, i'm not going to go do this or does he say i became president to make hard desexes and this is a moral issue of great national concern and national security interest in the country and that's why we have. >> it's hard now having asked for authorization if he doesn't get it, how can he go in after that. but i think you asked about the united nations. i think this is a perfect illustration of the how powerless they are in a situation like that. the russians would veto any attempt to get -- >> rose: so would the chinese. we haven't heard from the chinese, have we david, much on this? >> not much and they tend to take the view that you know, nobody should intervene in internal affairs. >> rose: like the concept of sovereignty. >> they like the concept of sanity a -- sovereignty which s why we haven't heard from them. charlie you raised a question here why this is such a huge gamble to the president.
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if he doesn't win this vote, and i'm with dexter, i suspect he will probably win it but not terribly impressively. if he doesn't win it, then he's got to chose between overturning what or ignoring what congress has voted on and appearing to the rest of the world to have very little influence at home or abroad. it's not a good place to be and that's why this is such a big role of the dice. >> rose: all eyes are focused on washington. thank you david very much. i kept you longer than i had planned to and i know you have a piece to write for tomorrow but thank you so much. >> always glad to be with you, charlie. >> rose: david sanger with the "new york times." and you too. when do you go back overseas. >> too soon. >> rose: we'll be back talking about the 2014 elections and the debate taking place in congress.
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>> rose: both houses of congress returned to washington after a month long hiatus. president obama's decision to seek congressional approval for potential strike on syria will be at the top agenda. midterm elections looming both democrats and republicans will use the coming weeks to set the tone for their campaigns. the syria vote and the democrat's ability to retain control of the senate will likely shape the president's legacy. joining me from washington, jonathan martin. he's a national political correspond empt in "new york times" and chrisally saw from the washington toast and maggie haberman from politico. i'm pleased to have each of them. let me begin with you. what do you think is going on in the king in a sense as they look at this and how do you see it lining up on this first day of testimony on the part of the chairman of the joint chiefs, the secretary of state and the secretary of defense. >> well look charlie, i think
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getting house speaker john boehner and majority leader eric cantor to come out publicly and say we're going to be for this use of force on syria is important. what's fascinating in a way though is how indicative it is of how much washington has changed. that might a decade ago have said okay well now it's going to pass the house. but as we've seen, john boehner and eric cantor don't necessarily have the ability to say we're going to deliver a majority of our majority behind this. look at the farm bill. look at other times the conservative minding wing of the republican party has revolted. it's harder. i think it will likely pass the senate. i think you heard some of that coming out of the hearing today. people like bob corker and marco rubio seem to want to be for it. i think the house, it's a very difficult policy and political change. >> rose: before i go to you
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jonathan let me make sure. boehner's support for it today does not mean necessarily he can carry the house republicans on this issue. >> that's 100% correct, charlie. >> rose: how do you see it jonathan. it's in the house obviously. what will make the determination as to whether enough republicans are on board and enough democrats on the left are on board. >> charlie, that's the challenge. the far right and the far left and we're both skeptical of this intervention. look, i was struck by the fact that geo politicalship in the house pointedly noted this was going to be a conscious vote. a conscious vote is a euphemism we're not going to put any skin in the game here and we're not going to try to actually deliver votes. so yes, there's this symbolic power of the two top leaders, boehner and cantor in the house gop conference supporting the measure. but if they're not going to aggressively try to secure the votes, then that doesn't mean
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that much. especially given as chris said the fact that even when they do try to go after votes and deliver votes, they aren't always successful. the polling is out today among democrats, independents and across the country he show it's not popular. if this is a so-called free vote that's what they call it in capitol hill when the votes are not going whipped or being chased. if this is a so-called free vote, you're going to see a lot of members take a pass charlie. >> rose: so on the republicans side you get mccain making the kinds of statements he's making. who has influence on the republican side now to make a difference? can mccain do it? >> you know, i think charlie, mccain will be able to appeal to some of the hawks in the republican party. but i think more than mccain, it will prompt some folks on the republican sign is the donor community and the political community. people who are politically
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ambitious looking toward 2016. it's not going to be mccain necessarily. but there's people like rand mall on -- rand paul on the otr side who has a lot of sway on this kind of issue which is apparently this ascended libertarian leaning tea party wing of the party on national security. i think it's going to be fascinating to see what kind of votes rand paul can move across capitol hill in the house because there are a lot of freshmen and sophmores in the house gop who align much more with rand paul than john mccain. >> rose: speaking of libertarian trending, what does the governor of new jersey say about this. >> the governor of new jersey has punted on talking about foreign policy or the beer summit with rand paul. this is not something he's shown an interest in weighing. he's so local new jersey centric and not administrating from that. >> rose: go ahead. >> charlie, just to add. jonathan, this is a moment, i think, for rand paul.
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so much of the focus is on president obama and can he sell this resolution. this is a moment, i think, where rand paul looks into conservatives and into republicans in the face and he says this is where i think the party should go, which is a much less hawkish, more driven by what is america's interest. this is not the republican party of ronald reagan it's certainly not the republican party that dominated on foreign policy and national security matters after september 11. this is a very clean break. there are places where rand paul and establishment republicans align. this is not one of them. so i'm fascinated. he's already staked where he's going to be which is oppose the resolution. can he, to jonathan's point, drive people, and i would note for everybody who says rand paul is out on the fringes both nbc, "wall street journal" poll and "the washington post" poll have shown a majority of americans, democrats and republicans opposing the use of force against syria, which is where rand paul is. >> this is rand paul's really
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first best chance to orient the republican party a come home foreign policy. this is one of the most interesting debates of the next three years as the republican party tries to finds itself. and this is the real start in terms of the foreign policy sector of that conversation. >> to jonathan's point there's always been a sense of theegaé realizes and the paul. they believe the public or the party the majority of the party will end up where they are. for the first time you're seeing a potential head to head clash over syria where that may not happen and rand paul's position is no people are not going to move they're going to stay with me. there's something to be said for him having that position. this would be what the sixth war. people are tired of this. >> rose: is it possible syria could cloud the remainder of president obama's term. >> i think it's very possible and the way this has played out is of great concern to american democrats who are worried about his legacy. it's not clear what the end game is. i think kerry's testimony today
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was difficult at times to put it mildly, and so we'll see how it goes. >> rose: how difficult. >> he was so of free associating with boots on the ground and that's not a great moment. that's not something you should be musing about. >> rose: no. >> charlie, i was going to say that the calendar alone is what's really important to think about. we are now in the first week in september. this is obviously going to dominate for the next two weeks probably the next month. then you're into october. the clock is ticking before you hit 2014. when does immigration get belt with. at some point this fall they're going to have to deal with the debt ceiling. keeping the government running. what happens to immigration. does that push to 146789 then you're into mid election year then politics clouds the issue. the calendar is a real challenge for president obama as he tries to take advantage of every day here in his second term. >> rose: what do you think the president would go if he did not have, if he hadn't crossed this red line, hadn't drawn the red line and then have it
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crossed and understanding the repercussion understanding the red line and then not doing anything about it. what would he have liked to have done about the middle east, simply ignored it stayed away from the paramount issues of immigration budget and keeping the house in order. >> immigration is where they would like to keep the issues. demonstrate 12eubg issues is where his administration would like to keep the issue. correct. i think they've accurately described where it is. >> rose: chris. >> i was going to just add to maggie, in a way it almost defines his presidency. maybe it defines the modern presidency charlie in the age of sort of blogs and cable tv and twitter. it feels as though president obama has always been waiting to pivot back to talking about the economy and domestic issues, and inevitably something else has taken itself and installed it. and forced him to deal witness. i can tell you beyond a should owe of a doubt. look at before syria.
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edward snowden, i know the president has said, look these reforms he has proposed. we're going to get there anyway but i'm not sure that the timing would have been where he wanted them to be. now we're on syria. as jonathan points out this president looked at 2013 we'll do something on guns in the wake of new talent and those are the two big pillars in the first year of my second term. guns is nothing happening with and immigration looks cloudy to get anything done looking at how the house has set they're going to do a peace meal approach. now that the calendar is pushed back can you get into a conference committee by 2013 it seems unlikely. >> or people who don't want immigration are waiting out the clock. that's the other problem. >> rose: so what will be the 2014 midterm election a referendum on? what will be the great debate in 2014? >> if you're a democrat, charlie, you hope that it will
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be a referendum on house republicans and republicans in general, what democrats would describe as their in transgence whether it's healthcare or immigration or foreign policy though i doubt 2014 mid terms decides on foreign policy. if you're a republican you hope very strongly they will be a referendum on barack obama he has said one thing he wants to change washington though his actions tell a different story. healthcare which revvs off the republican beige there's two different messages. >> that's because most people don't believe this is going to be a waver year on either side. this is the status quo 2014 we're heading into. the arguments chris just laid out and i think he's exactly right, those sound surprisingly like the arguments we heard in 2012. i don't think you'll hear much difference. >> rose: is that a wave year. >> no, it was not a wave year.
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the mood, i think 2010 was a wave year where house republicans -- yes, but 2012, the issues of sort of the intransigent congress versus the obamacare and competence of the obama whitehouse or how you feel about the obama whitehouse that's the argument of 2012 and the democrats argue they won that. i don't see a big difference on either side's approach right now. >> rose: in terms of presidential politic and obviously shaped by a whole range of things interesting midterm election and how syria plays itself out and rand mall and libertarianism and whole range of others. on the republican side where do you see it today in terms of where people are staking their own ground beyond rand paul. >> i'll defer to jonathan on that. >> rose: go ahead jonathan. >> look, i think you've got two, in basketball terms, you're a north carolina line guy. >> he's just trying to butter you up. >> with two brackets, two
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brackets determine. the rand paul bracket would be folks like rand paul, ted cruz, perhaps rick santorum running again. the more movement conservative type candidate. and then you've got the more traditional establishment oriented. that certainly would include chris christie, perhaps marco rubio, jeb bush, down in florida. the pier has -- party has got to figure out who it is. you talk to folks and they say look we have not nominated a movement conservative really for a long time. maybe reagan, although he was a two-term governor of california. basically the party after two terms of [ obama is going to wat to win again in 2016. this party is a much more conservative place and the fact is we're not going to nominate after mccain and romney one more pragmatist, we're going to nominate a real conservative this time. that's going to be litigated over the course of the two
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and-a-half years. it's too far out to know what's going to happen when the two winners of those brackets come out of the brackets. that's how it looks right now. >> if i could ad, i think january than's right with this for lation. the establishment in washington the people i talk to in my opinion under estimate the potential power of a rand paul or ted cruz really making a run for it. this is not a fringe movement i don't believe at this point. jonathan is right, the establishment -- >> stop those folks -- >> the establishment does tend to win. rand paul, he is not his father's conservative. he is a more sort of polished version and i think people under estimate him at their peril. >> i think that's absolutely -- >> rose: that's not what you thought he was going to say. >> i thought chris was going to go with the quote/unquote third way which is there are a lot of people, and i don't think jonathan mentioned this in his bracketing. there are a lot of people who see scott walker as a possible
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sneak up the middle alternative. >> the third bracket. >> the third and perhaps maybe slightly lower chair bracket. because of what happened in the referendum. because all of the things that chris christie talks about that makes him a winner. scott walker has arguably a stronger case to make. he won a recall election. he made the same kinds of moves he would argue that he stuck with it with sort of less flash, he's right next to iowa. >> a joint state in the general election. >> rose: does chris christie have any claim that he is a kind of, has a kinship with tea party. >> people would say he's the conservative. the rudy giuliani, he is more conservative than he ever was but chris christie's claim to tea party energy was he was elected in the early part of wave, elected in 2009. that is a legitimate point. >> rose: marco rubio.
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>> he was a tea party guy. >> rose: still or has he moved on immigration and places that calls for a redefinition. >> he has a base problem right now. i don't think most people would disagree with that. where he is on the syria vote is interesting. >> christie's conservatism or tea party appeal was mostly tonal. he was sort of brash. he was willing to say this president has failed. maggie is exactly right he's not really rudy giuliani but he's not rand paul or cruz other. if you dig below sort of telling how it is to the press telling how it is to john boehner, there is not a person record-wise that is going to be in that same bracketing as a ted cruz or a rand paul or rick santorum. >> we've sort of been in this place before, 1998, 99, the
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republicans were so radicalized by president clinton they impeached him. we're not unfamiliar with the republicans coming out of a two determine democratic party reviled by the republican base. there's a precedent for this. the question is, though, has the party fundamentally changed since the late 90's when a thoroughly establishment figure like george w. bush can get the nomination of a party that had been led by tom blithe and dick army. can chris christie seek control of the party. i think it's the most fascinating story line in american politics today. >> i agree with jonathan totally. but with the caveat for christie he's an establishment politician who doesn't have being a former president's son doesn't have sort of the clear, the new york money establishment is going to be very much behind christie. the national establishment is not necessarily. and he's also not the governor of a red state which bush was. >> the governors were almost all
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behind george w. bush. >> correct. >> frizz not a consensus around christy in the early going. maggie's point is really smart. is there a way, a walker type figure that can bridge the two parties or is there something like that we're not even talking about. >> it's still pretty early >> rose: it's the who is barack obama in 2016. >> we don't know. remember barack obama didn't really start to emerge. i remember sort of in the fall of 2006 charlie, barack obama went to, i remember he went to west virginia and 5,000 people turned up. even then, we were still in a world that was sort of he's a freshman senator a great speaker but can he do the. one quick point on barack obama and what he means for people making decisions going forward. i think the fact barack obama spent two years in the senate before running for president does changes the calculus of a
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rand paul. there is no longer the u.s. spends 30 years -- in fact the opposite you have to spend less time. >> rose: the same way jimmy carter changed the calculus what he did in iowa when he got the nomination in 76. quickly, how is the former secretary of state deciding to do this, assuming she is going to do this and most of us believe she is, even though she may not have made that decision. let's assume whether she's made the decision finally or not, she's moving forward so she'll be prepared if she does. what's she doing to prepare. >> funny you asked that. she's not doing a whole lot. she's giving paid speeches. she's working with a small cadre of aids. >> rose: she's pitched herself to the found information. >> she has hitched her sell to the foundation. it's now the bill, hillary and chelsea foundation.
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it's run by a person who people think very highly of her. she's going to be issuing some serious work and serious papers she'll be focusing on women and girls, childhood development. these are all areas she considers her life's work. these are natural extensions. >> rose: what she devoted her life to. even as her part in the secretary of state. >> it gives her a platform from which he can run a base. >> rose: finally, joe biden. >> two weeks, that's not an accident. look i think joe biden, if hillary clinton does not run, joe biden -- >> rose: that's easy jonathan isn't it. if hillary clinton doesn't run. the question is -- >> it's hard to see him running. >> the best indicator of running in the future is running he's run twice before but he's a smart politician, he knows. >> he has a legacy. >> he knows he can't win. i think all the posturing is maybe he runs against hilary is
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to say if she doesn't run everybody else, martin o'malley everybody else thinking of running i'm first in line. >> rose: thank you very much, chris, thank you martin, thank you maggie. this is one of those things that happens when you're doing television if you're taking a program things happen after the program, after you've said good-bye and this has happened to us. maggie haberman after taping our segment that you've just seen did some reporting. one of the questions we had raised what might former secretary of state hillary clinton do and where does she stand now. so after maggie left this table, she did some reporting and found out that the clinton forces are releasing a statement. so i'm pleased to have maggie stay here and help us understand this breaking news development. so tell me what secretary clinton's going to do or say. >> her aide gave me a statement saying she supports obama's approach to congress looking for
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an authorization of a limited strike in syria. very short statement. i think it's not a surprise that they did it. it's late in the day. it's sort of at the end of one news cycle but it's also making it so there's not another day of questions about what she's going to say. it's not clear whether there's been communication between her folks and the president's folks but i find it hard to believe that there wouldn't be. >> rose: it would not be. >> correct. >> rose: this is so significant and so consequential for the president he's clearly calling out every possible avenue to come in and help him. >> i think that's right and i also think that for her folks i think the feeling is that it's better to have no daylight between former secretary and the president on this issue and give sort of a limited statement that at least doesn't keep feeding the narrative that she's ducking questions. there's a lot of questions from republicans but not solely from republicans. the media's started to push on it harder. has she talked about syria how
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can she not talk about syria. her people came to the conclusion she couldn't. >> rose: that's one of the most important votes congress will take and we've talked about her presidential possibilities are apparent. >> one of the interesting things in terms of her narrative for 2016 is while she has a very long background, her most recent launch pad was at the state department. it was her least political, it was sort of this centrist hawk position she took. and one of the positions she took was on syria on her way out. it was reported that she and general david petraeus had advocated arming some syrian rebels. >> rose: i don't think it was petraeus it was panetta and the secretary of state. >> and the whitehouse said no to this. it was described in reports not insignificantly the clinton petraeus plan. those are not the only forces behind it but those were certainly the main thrust for it. the white house said no they feared getting drawn into the
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conflict even more deeply into the mid east than we already are. they feared the arms would get into the wrong hands. there are some people who argue that would have been a better approach. i think what secretary clinton wants to not do is end up litigating about what she did not do before but get ahead of what she's doing. >> rose: finally before we leave this. where is former president clinton on this. >> i think you're going to see him echo what the secretary says. >> rose: in all things political. >> i think that's correct. look we know he commented saying to senator mccain, i agree with you. in a private event there were a hundred people in the room. and mccain has been the most vociferous hawk urging more to do in syria whether it was actually intended as a slight or just bill clinton talking i don't know but he will be more circumspect now. >> rose: thank you maggie.
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keep reporting. thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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>> the following kqed production was browsed in high definition. >> it's all about licking your plate. >> i should be in psychoanalysis for the amount of money i spend in restaurants. >> i had a horrible experience. >> i don't even think we were at the same restaurant.

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